Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Religion at Office

I have now spent 7 days at office and today I saw something very interesting. But let me go in order.

I wore a new shirt to office on the first day - 16th, June (I bought 2 nice shirts from Fab India last sunday [15th, June]). Though the shirt felt really good, that day was buried in orientation programmes and hence was long and boring. Right from the second day, I had nothing more than training (Java, Unix and Perl). We have our training in a new building, in which, presently, only a handful of seats are occupied. Today was the last day of my Perl session and the instructor kept a small test at the end of the day. I was in no mood for a test. So I wrote something, gave the answer-sheet back and came out.

Then, I was literally taken aback, when I saw a religious (Hindu religion) ceremony ("Pooja"), for the inauguration of office at this building, in progress. For a company like mine to indulge in a proper religious ceremony, with a priest, a Lord Ganesha's idol (in silver), flowers, "prasadam", "Kuthu Vilakku" and mantras enchanted by the priest with the bell, is unacceptable to me.

Though it was shocking in the beginning, it started to become funny soon. The majority of the people who were invited for the ceremony were foreigners. Looking at their faces and thinking about what all this could mean to them, made me burst with laughter. I also got reminded of a story, my dad used to tell me when I was small. The story goes like this.

In a big kingdom, there lived a foolish and unhealthy king, who had no children. One day when the king died, the ministers decided to use the traditional method to decide who would inherit the throne, as there was no prince. So they got the temple's elephant, gave it a garland and took it on the streets of the kingdom. The method deems the guy, who is garlanded, the king of the kingdom. The elephant walked all day, but din't even stop anywhere. It finally made up its mind and garlanded a beggar, at the corner of a street. Though the ministers were disappointed that the elephant din't choose them, they were at least relieved as the ceremony got over. They quickly made the beggar the king. The beggar was very happy with all this but he din't eat anything in the dinner party that night and answered that he was not hungry, when anyone asked. The king was actually hungry. The next morning at the grand feast, he sent everyone out of the dining hall and shut the doors from inside. After sometime, the ministers got curious and peeked in. Inside, the king was holding a plate and was moving around the dining table. Near each dish, he stops and says, "Please give me some food. I'm hungry from morning." Then, he serves himself a small portion of the dish and eats it there. Though this new king proved to be very efficient and grew as a mighty king, he could never change this eating habit of his.

Coming back to our picture, this story relates to today's function only on the surface level; beneath the surface, today's ceremony proves, once again, that people hold on to sentiments more than logic, morals (secularism) or wisdom. But then again there were a few things that made me unhappy (really?) and laugh at the same time :
  1. Today is tuesday, which is considered inauspicious for events such as this.
  2. The foreigners were wearing their shoes, even when they went to get blessed (by the priest) and the priest din't object to it.

  3. Whenever the priest finishes a mantra or gives "prasadam" to someone, everyone starts clapping.

Ultimately, the boat was neither here nor there.

Friday, June 13, 2008

In the last few days of vacation

On May 30th, I went to meet Prof. K. S. Ramachandran, my maths tutor for IIT-JEE, who did much more than teaching maths or even teaching itself, at his house, with Vijayaraghavan, Rajashekar and Akshay Ram. Though he couldn't recognize us, he was happy to see us. We were more than happy to meet him too. A lot of memories came back to me then. The memories were not confined to the ones with KSR in it; but the entire world, I saw 4 years back, came in front of my eyes. I could realize, once again, that those days were beautiful. They were so beautiful that the very thought, that these memories would go away in sometime, was accompanied by tears. We talked for about 20 minutes about our plans after college and other arbitrary stuff, he gave us some sweets to eat and then we left, happy and content to have seen him after 4 years. He is healthy and his jokes are still very funny.

On June 9th, I went to my school (DAV Boys Sr. Sec. School, Gopalapuram), with Rajashekar, Akshay Ram and Sureshwar. We met our 11th and 12th standard teachers - Prem Chand (maths), Shanthi (computer science) and Sampath (chemistry). Physics teacher, Malarvizhi, had retired last year and we specifically avoided meeting Mini James (english), our most hated teacher. Sampath still remembered and told me that I wrote "Anbe Sivam" on the blackboard (in the place for proverbs), the day after I saw the movie "Anbe Sivam". When we met Sampath, we also saw our 6th standard science teacher - Maheshwari. She said that this was the first time she saw students coming back to school after completing engineering. Right then, I had a good mind to say, "Who will come to meet you, if you hit students with a steel scale?" But I controlled myself for, Sampath sir was sitting right next to her. We then met C.K.Lalitha (10th standard english teacher), who remembered all our names. To get all the feelings, I had on that day, in this post is close to impossibility. All in all, it felt nice.

Today, we went to the Dhabba on Cenotaph road, for dinner, partly to celebrate my birthday and partly to have a final get-together before I go to Bangalore. "We" includes Rajashekar, Venkatesh, Manoj, Nambi and myself. The food was really good.

Earlier today (in the afternoon), I, with dad and mom, went to this new Arun ice-cream outlet near my house. The outlet is not very big, but has a nice variety of ice-cream flavours. I had a double-scoop and my parents had a single-scoop each. One serving filled my stomach and it was very delicious too.

Tomorrow, I'm leaving for Bangalore by train at 11:15 pm. I have to join GS on June 16th (Monday). So tomorrow will mark my last day of vacation :(